Friday, July 13, 2012

Double Review: Seraphina & The Audition by Rachel Hartman

Just out this week!!!

Seraphina (Seraphina #1)

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.

Genre: YA* Traditional Fantasy (strongly historical in feel)
Publisher Type:  Traditional
My Rating: *  *  *  *  *

My Review:

This is a brilliant book!!!  The descriptive writing alights the imagination; the word choice is varied and intelligent; the story is complex and powerful.  Seraphina is both a classic fantasy and a beautiful "becoming" story of self acceptance while battling against prejudice and political intrigues.

Unlike a classical fantasy that is more quest centered and less character deep, this novel is chock full of thoroughly developed personas.  I immediately fell in love with our brave, yet unsure of herself, heroine; then we meet those surrounding her, including those living within her head.  Every character has texture and depth.  You can not help but love them or hate them, but never can you feel indifferent towards any of them.

The world building is stunning.  I love the dragons and their difference to human kind; Hartman's descriptions of the dragon experience are spine-tingling.  Seraphina's world feels so authentically historical and her garden within her head is amazingly artistic.

The story is layered with lots of mystery and surprises.  I never suspected the "guilty party" but upon reflection the signs were all there.  Then there's the drama.  I'm not a fan of most drama as it tends to be full of whininess and plot-stalling muck, but the dramatic elements of this story are neither.  I cried, I bit my knuckles and I hurt for Seraphina.  The entire story is so incredibly well told that the reader remains completely invested in the characters and events throughout.  The ending leaves one craving more and desperate to know what happens next, but provides enough closure to leave us with that all important contentedness of finishing a good book.

Much like LaFever's Grave Mercy, the historical essence of Seraphina makes it difficult to label it as young adult literature.  Sure the mc is a teen, but in a historical setting teens lead an adult life.  Truly there's not an age group who wouldn't love this book.  It's an amazing story and everyone should read it!!!

Cover Art:
Truthfully, this cover fell flat for me.  I fear it will hurt this book's sales as it just doesn't shine next to all the gorgeous covers filled with rich colors and beautiful girls in amazing dresses.  I can imagine seeing a partial profile of Seraphina in a beautiful historical dress with her sleeve pulled up revealing shimmering silver scales; perhaps she is reaching up toward a dragon snout.  Or perhaps we have a full view of Seraphina in an amazing dress, with some of her scaling showing, surrounded by flames.  This book deserves the dramatic.

Exclusive prequel to Seraphina.

Click on the link to read on Scribd:  The Audition

My Rating: *  *  *  *  *

My Review:
For an extremely short (19 pages) story, this is a real gem.  I suggest reading this after Seraphina only because you'll already be so in love with these characters at that point, you'll cherish this little peak all the more!


  1. Great review. And even though I really like the cover I think that your ideas may be right. It would be a shame people won't get this book just because of the cover.

  2. I absolutely loved Seraphina! Hartman's writing is beautiful and very intellectual which I loved! I didn't know there was a prequel out. I will definitely be reading that now, I can imagine it's just as awesome as the book itself!

  3. Hello Danielle! Thank you for entering my 100 Follower Giveaway @ Literary Love Affair! And thank you for following as well! I am now following you back! :D

    Hope to talk more about books in the future with you!

    ~ Maida @ Literary Love Affair 

    1. Yay! I love new book friends!